PARIS (Combined Sources) — Three-time Oscar-winning composer, songwriter and pianist Michel Legrand died Saturday, January 26, at his home in France. He was 86.
The conservatory-trained musician worked across genres but was best known as a prolific composer of film scores, and resulted in two hits, The Windmills of Your Mind and I Will Wait For You.
The music of the composer, singer, arranger, conductor, jazz musician and went on glowing long after many of the 250-odd films he had written soundtracks for had fallen by the wayside.
Legrand made deadpan reference to that phenomenon when he played at Ronnie Scott’s club in London in 2011 – announcing that it was his ambition to meet “one of the 19 people who ever saw ‘The Happy Ending,’” the 1969 Hollywood film for which he wrote his classic love song What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?
But if some of the film vehicles for Legrand’s artistry were outlasted by his music, several became famous, including The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) and Norman Jewison’s “The Thomas Crown Affair” (1968), with Noel Harrison singing The Windmills of Your Mind, which won Legrand’s first Oscar, for best film theme song, in 1969. Another Oscar followed for “The Summer of ’42” two years later – this time for best film music. Its theme, The Summer Knows, was recorded later that year by Barbra Streisand, whose 1983 film, “Yentl,” won him his third Oscar, again for best music.